Three comics related items I thought I’d throw in my two cents about.
1) Identity Crisis – DC’s big summer event is certainly getting attention. In issue one they killed off Sue Dibney, wife of Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man. In issue two we found out that she’d also been raped a while back by the villain Dr. Light, and the JLA agreed to lobotomize him as punishment.
Many people are outraged. Many aren’t. In fact, the comic book itself has sort of been sidelined while everyone tries to decide if they’re hipper for being outraged or not being outraged.
Personally, I don’t really have a dog in this fight, as DC’s current superhero comics don’t interest me even a little bit. Considering their whole universe will be rebooted in a few years anyway, and at that point Sue will be alive and well again, there’s no point in caring about much of anything they do, for good or for ill.
However, in general, I’m on the side of the people who think this is a stupid development. Ralph and Sue had one of the few genuinely loving and stable relationships in comics, so I can understand it having a big target on it, but come on. This is the freakin’ Elongated Man, folks. Are you going to try to make him dark and edgy with a thirst for revenge now? And the JLA is now lobotomizing criminals to make them act better? Has no one told them about a place called Arkham Asylum, where they first should have gotten this idea? Or do they only need to take action when the criminal affects one of their own?
But mostly, can we please come up with a way to motivate superheroes other than killing or hurting their loved ones? And, other than Amazonian heritage or blood transfers from superhero men, is there any way to make female comics characters “strong” other than having them be raped or shot? I actually saw one guy arguing that having Sue go through this made her a stronger character. This apparently is a nuanced version of “stronger” that also means “yeah, but still just as dead.”
All this brouhaha has taught me is that I’m missing nothing by avoiding current DC superhero comics.
2) Eightball #23 – Issue 23 of Dan Clowes’ Eightball came out recently and I decided to pick it up for a taste. I only had read Ghost World by Clowes and liked it well enough.
I really enjoyed Eightball #23 and plan to increase my Eightball consumption. However, and I grant that perhaps I wasn’t reading closely or carefully enough, I don’t remember the part that was an unparalleled work of absolute genius, shaking the foundation of comics to its core and giving superhero comics a shocking violation worse than Sue Dibney’s. I found it to be an interesting tale of what happens when great responsibility doesn’t come with great power, and how we alter the meaning of ‘the right thing to do’ to conform with our own desires and needs, especially when we have the power to back up our rationalizations. It’s insightful and interesting, but neither earth-shattering nor pointless.
3) Black Lantern – Ain’t It Cool News is reporting that Jack Black has been signed to do a wild and wacky movie based on the Green Lantern comic. Now, the mere fact that AICN is reporting this means it probably isn’t true, and there’s plenty to doubt about it (is “Green Lantern” such a household name that they would bank on this?) but that hasn’t stopped everyone from speculating about it.
Some folks seem to think this is a fantastic idea. After all, Jack Black’s a hilarious guy! One person argues that this is “genius casting” because GL derives his power from his massive willpower, fearlessness, and confidence, three things Jack Black possess in spades. Someone else has also rightly pointed out that it’s a little too late to worry about crappy comic book movies, a point well worth mentioning.
Nevertheless, I still think it’s a stupid idea. Comics still haven’t recovered from the Batman 60’s TV show, which seemed to define what comics are all about for millions of people who’ve never bothered to read them. We still have to put up with newspaper and magazine articles about comics that begin the title with “Biff! Pow!” Granted, there are some people who were introduced to comics through that TV show, but I think in general it did more harm than good. And just as Batman started to recover from the Adam West show, Tim Burton had to come along and start an awful string of movies that kicked comics back to the dirt again. Now, people who know me know that I’m not one of these pathetic souls whining that comics aren’t taken seriously. But that doesn’t mean I’m all for yet another shot to the foot.
Sure, many other genres have survived gentle ribbing and downright spoofing without any ill effects. But those genres had a modicum of respect to begin with. I see no reason to continue the degradation of the comics medium and even participate in it. But, as the man says, it’s a little too late to start complaining about crappy comic book movies.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading my huge stack of Free Comic Book Day comics (thanks Jim!) and preparing for this afternoon’s haul. But I couldn’t just sit here and not comment on these three huge stories. They’re just too big and important to ignore!
(Oh, by the way. Kudos to every person involved in Crises #s 1 and 3 above who helpfully pointed out, “They’re just fictional characters! Get some perspective!” I totally appreciate that, as I had previously believed all DC comics were based on real characters and events. Now that I understand they’re merely fictional, I’ll happily surrender any amount of giving a damn I have about them, since that would clearly be foolish.)